new breeder with questions, seeking advice and answers

stormygray

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Hey all, so I am someone who is looking into/interested in breeding cats, I have recently came into possession of a very beautiful, sweet, and good tempered ragdoll bi-color and I have became interested in breeding him. I'm coming on this forum looking to learn from other breeders some do's and do not's aswell as some more specific questions

is it typical to ask for a up front payment and how much should it be?

how long and how many visits does it take to breed successfully?

how old does my male cat have to be to do breeding? do they have to be over night or can they be shorter sessions?

what protections should I have in place to guarantee proof of ownership and his safety?(IE legally what are my best protections against problematic breeding partners)

what should I do if he's harmed/ what are typical leagle courses of actions I can take if he's harmed?

Where are some of the best places I can look for mates for our cat online?

What are some tell tale signs of bad breeders/ tell tale signs of good breeding partners?
 

lutece

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Good for you for thinking ahead and starting to ask questions before breeding your cat!

First of all, before offering your cat for stud service to anyone, you will want to think about whether he is an appropriate candidate to contribute in a positive way to his breed. Have you talked with your cat's breeder already? Was he sold to you as "show quality," "breeding quality" or "pet quality"?

Here are some minimum requirements for a responsible breeder to offer a cat for stud service:
  • Your cat should be registered in at least one major association such as CFA, TICA, GCCF, FIFe, etc.
  • You should have breeding rights for your cat. Your cat's registration slip should allow breeding (it should not have a "not for breeding" annotation), and your contract with your cat's breeder should allow breeding.
  • You also need a pedigree for your cat to four or five generations, so that you can check the pedigree of any potential mate, to be sure he is not bred to any of his close relatives. Learning about your cat's pedigree also helps you understand what is in your cat's ancestry, and what he is likely to produce in his kittens.
  • Your cat should be tested for genetic disorders that are known to occur in your cat's breed. For Ragdolls, you will want to do DNA testing for HCM and PKD, at minimum, unless your cat's parents have both been tested clear, and you have a copy of their test results. Your cat should also be examined by a veterinarian for structural faults that can be inherited, such as patellar luxation, misaligned teeth, etc.
  • Your cat should also be tested for communicable diseases, including FeLV and FIV at minimum, and parasites.
  • Your cat should be up to date on his vaccinations and should get regular vet checks.
  • Your cat should meet the breed standard for the association without any disqualifying faults. If you need help learning about the breed standard, I can help, just let me know.
Here are some additional recommendations that are good to do before offering a cat for stud service:
  • It's best to also get an ultrasound of your cat's heart done by a veterinary cardiologist, so that you can check for HCM. Even though there is a genetic test for HCM in Ragdolls, the current test can only detect one gene variant. HCM screening with ultrasound is also recommended, and should be repeated every two years for an active breeding cat.
  • Showing your cat in cat shows is a good way to evaluate how well he meets his breed standard. Right now, there are not many shows happening due to COVID, but it's a good idea to think about showing your cat in the future, if you want to offer him as a stud cat for breeding.
You also need a safe, spacious, and easily cleaned place for your stud male to live in your home. Many male cats start to spray or pee on things, either when they become sexually mature teenagers, or when they become fully mature adults. For example, you can adapt a bedroom to be his space, as long as it has good ventilation, and has surfaces that are easily cleaned. He can run around in the rest of your house when you can keep an eye on him. If he becomes a sprayer as he matures, he can wear "stud pants" during times when he is loose in your house.

You will also need to have a suitable place to keep a female who is visiting your male cat. Visiting females need a safe, separate area such as a spare bedroom that can be thoroughly cleaned between visits. They might need to stay with you for several weeks, to allow time for them to come into heat and be bred to your male. If a female cat is traveling a long distance, you may also need to keep the female for a few more weeks, to ensure that she is pregnant before she travels home.

Before allowing a female to visit your male, you will want to check her health and qualifications:
  • Females should be registered in a major association, their owners should have breeding rights, and you should check their pedigrees to be sure they aren't closely related to your male cat. They should also meet the breed standard without any disqualifying faults.
  • Females should be health tested just like your male cat and should be up to date on vaccinations and health checks.
  • You'll want to have a good talk with the owner of the female to evaluate whether they are a responsible breeder, care for their cats and kittens properly, ensure that the kittens are going to good homes and that they are spayed and neutered, etc.
You should also use a written contract every time you have a female visit your male for breeding. The stud contract basically spells out what happens if things go wrong, such as if the female never gets pregnant, or if she gets pregnant and doesn't have live kittens, or the kittens die in the first week after birth, or if the kittens turn out to have hereditary health issues, or if the male gets sick after the female visits, or the female gets sick after visiting, or if the cats injure each other, etc. For example, your stud contract might say that the female's owner is entitled to a refund if there are no live kittens, and it might protect both parties from liability by stating that neither the female's owner or the male's owner are liable for any illness or injuries that happen as a result of the female visiting the male, etc.

As far as how much you can charge for stud service, this depends on the quality of your male, the service you are providing, and how much stud cats are in demand in your breed.
  • If you have a top quality male cat with show titles, properly health tested, and you can properly care for the females that visit him, it's quite possible you may be able to find a market for his services.
  • However, if he doesn't have any show titles, isn't show quality, doesn't have a valuable pedigree for your breed, and/or you can't do a proper job with health testing or housing of visiting females, you may not be able to find anyone interested.
A good way to find potential mentors for you (as a new breeder), or to find potential mates for your cat, would be to contact a breed club for your breed. There are several Ragdoll clubs. Another place to start would be to talk to your cat's breeder and see if they have any suggestions.
 
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